Updated: Niles rallies for 36-29 win over Gull Lake
Derek Brown showed the signs of a night of grinding on the basketball court.
The Niles High School senior was holding a bag of ice to comfort an ankle he has sprained “more times than I can count” and his voice was hoarse from vocally leading the Vikings in a 36-29 home victory against Gull Lake Tuesday.
It was the second win for Niles (3-12) in its last three starts.
Brown, who played only about five minutes Friday at Portage Northern because of his ankle showed grit against Gull Lake that was appreciated by his coach.
“He really battled tonight,” Niles coach Todd Pa wielski said. “He was hurting. He faced a lot of pressure. He handled the basketball for us. He did a nice job of getting us organized.”
Turnovers have been a bugaboo for the Vikings much of the 2015-16 season.
In a game that started out slowly with Niles leading Gull Lake 7-6 after one quarter and 13-11 at halftime with eight first-half turnovers, the Vikings gave the basketball away to the Blue Devils just twice in the second half — none in the fourth quarter.
Niles continued to play without its top on-the-ball defender Jake Hamm (mononeucleosis) and ultra-quick ball-handler Chris Brown (sprained anke), so Derek Brown took on more responsibility.
“With Chris out now, I’ve got to run the point,” Derek Brown said. “Our team gets a little flustered sometimes. My job is to calm people down and get the ball where it needs to go.”
The guard reads his teammates. When he sees the frustration level rising and “everyone’s in their own heads,” he will call them together and get them back on-task.
“I bring them over and tell them to calm down, get the ball, run our offense do what we’re supposed to do,” Brown said. “Once we get our shots down low to fall, we’re tough to guard. Our money’s down in the paint with (seniors) Gavin (Rasler) and Tyler (Phillips).”
Rasler’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:30 to go Tuesday put the Vikings ahead 30-29.
“I have to give my assistant coach, Miles Busby, he called the play and Gavin knocked it down,” said Pawielski of the sequence helped lead to the Vikings’ second victory in its last three starts.
Gull Lake led 29-25, but went scoreless for the game’s last four minutes following a 3-pointer by junior Jack Millmier.
Niles cut the gap to two with a Phillips layup at the 3:44 mark of the fourth period.
Down the stretch, the Vikings forced the Blue Devils into a turnover and long missed 3-point attempt by junior Jarrett Miller and got another layup from Phillips, free throws from senior Devin Kuemin and one from Rasler.
“Everybody responded,” Pawielski said. “What a great quarter by the Vikes tonight.
“It was a great job by our seniors in the fourth quarter. Gavin hit the shot. Tyler made a layup. Devin hit the free throws. Derek Brown did a nice job of running the show. All of them did a nice job when they were on the floor. It was an excellent finish after a slow start.
“It just wasn’t a very pretty game in a lot of respects. Our energy needed to be better early. With four minutes to go, we looked like the team that we can be.”
Rasler netted 11 of his game-high 15 points in the second half. He also paced Niles on the night with eight rebounds.
Phillips finished with eight points (four each in the second and fourth quarters) and six rebounds.
Millmeier and senior Derek Bishop scored nine points each for the Blue Devils.
The contest, which featured two teams playing deliberate half-court offense, never saw either team lead by more than four points until the final minute.
NILES 36, GULL LAKE 29
GULL LAKE 29
Chris Latt 0, Derek Bishop 9, Jarrett Miller 4, Jack Millmier 9, Jacob Gleason 2, Matt Ruge 2, Blake Lehman 0, Noah Throop 0, Nate Wargolet 0, RV Johnson 0, Cam Lemon 3, Tyler Gleason 0. TOTALS: 12 1-8 29.
Gavin Rasler 15, Tyler Phillips 8, Alex Harpenau 4, Bryce Lake 3, Derek Brown 2, Donovan Jennings 1, Devin Kuemin 3, Dawson Clemens 0, Austin Curran 0, Dustin Anders 0. TOTALS: 13 7-11 36.
Gull Lake 6 11 24 29
Niles 7 13 23 36
3-point baskets: Gull Lake 4 (Millmier 3, Lemon), Niles 3 (Rasler 2, Lake). Total fouls (fouled out): Gull Lake 17 (none), Niles 11 (none). Technical fouls: Gull Lake coach Gary Sprague (:15, fourth quartrer). Shooting: Gull Lake 12-of-38 for 31-percent, Niles 13-of-33 for 39-percent. Rebounding: Gull Lake 31 (Latt 10, Bishop 9, Wargolet 5), Niles 23 (Rasler 8, Phillips 6). Turnovers: Gull Lake 15, Niles 10. Varsity records: Niles 3-12, Gull Lake 1-12. JV: Niles 55, Gull Lake 32.